The Olympus E-1 is the first removable lens digital SLR with a lens mount and imaging system specifically designed for digital. As such it is also the first removable lens digital SLR from Olympus and marks the beginning of a whole new camera system (bodies, lenses, flashes and accessories), the 'E System'. The E-1 has a five megapixel 4/3" type (18 x 13.5 mm) CCD sensor from Kodak, it carries the '4/3' logo on the camera body and lens indicating that it is part of this standard (sensor size and lens mount). The camera system and '4/3 System' has a public history (although in private it is likely to have started much earlier) stretching back to February 2001 when Kodak and Olympus announced they would be joining forces to 'develop digital camera technology'.
The 'E System' & '4/3 System' timeline
- Kodak and Olympus join forces (13 February 2001)
- Olympus to intro 5.1 mp SLR next year? (27 April 2001)
- Olympus confirm 4/3" CCD concept camera (1 May 2001)
- Kodak 4/3 inch 5 mp CCD (31 May 2001)
- Olympus and Kodak confirm 'Four Thirds System' (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 'Four Thirds' D-SLR pictures (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 4/3 Digital SLR 'E System' (2 March 2003)
- Olympus E System from PMA (show floor) (4 March 2003)
- Olympus launches 'Four Thirds' website (11 March 2003)
It's worth noting that Fujifilm has also expressed an interest in the 4/3 system. This standard defines the size* of sensor (4/3" type, 18 x 13.5 mm) and the lens mount / lens communication protocol. In theory you should be able to use a 4/3 lens from any manufacturer on a 4/3 body.
* There has been some confusion about the exact meaning of '4/3', at one stage it was published elsewhere that this referred to the aspect ratio of the image. I can confirm that although a coincidence the 4/3 name was never meant to refer to the image aspect ratio. For more information on sensor type sizes click here.
The Olympus E-1 Key Features
- Magnesium-alloy body with environmental sealing (splash proof)
- Five megapixel 4/3" Kodak Full Frame Transfer CCD (4/3 System compliant)
- 4/3 System lens mount
- Range of four ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses initially available (smaller and lighter than 35 mm)
- TTL viewfinder with removable focusing screen
- "Supersonic Wave Filter" cleans CCD at each camera start-up (dust is shaken from CCD)
- Dual USB 2.0 (full 480 Mb/s speed) and IEEE 1394 (Firewire) connectivity
- 3-point TTL phase difference AF
- Focus-by-wire manual focus
- Manual focus after AF lock available (switchable)
- 3 bulb AF assist lamp
- 3-zone multi-pattern metering
- Program Shift in Program AE mode
- Shutter speed range of 60 to 1/4000 sec (up to 8 minutes in Bulb mode)
- Custom delay 'Anti-Shock' feature (similar to mirror lock-up on other SLR's)
- Continuous shooting 3 frames per second up to 12 frames
- Sensitivity range of ISO 100 - 800 plus 1600 and 3200 with 'ISO BOOST'
- Exposure steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop (EV)
- Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
- Selectable color space; sRGB or Adobe RGB
- Wide range of white balance options, four manual presets, fine tuning
- Hybrid white balance sensor (on external surface of camera and using CCD)
- Customizable image parameters (saturation, sharpness, contrast)
- Noise reduction for ISO noise and long exposure noise (both can be disabled)
- RAW format and RAW+JPEG support
- In-camera RAW Data Edit
- Compact Flash Type I & II storage including IBM Microdrive and FAT32
- User upgradeable firmware
- 1.8" 134,000 pixel LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating
- Control Panel LCD display with backlight (panel also has anti-reflective coating)
- Flash hot-shoe and PC Sync flash terminal
- Shading compensation (removes potential vignetting)
4/3 system, size, lenses and implications
The 4/3" type sensor measures 18.0 x 13.5 mm, just slightly smaller than the size of the CMOS sensors Canon have used in their EOS-D30, EOS-D60 and EOS-10D digital SLR's. That may come as a surprise to some as it can be difficult to visualize the size of a sensor. The diagram below shows the relative sizes of various sensors compared to a normal 35 mm film negative. Indeed what's interesting is that the 4/3 sensor is exactly half the width of a 35 mm negative, vertically the measurement is different because of the different aspect ratio.
The use of a smaller sensor means that you don't need such a large imaging circle (as would be produced by a 35 mm lens), this means you can make the lenses smaller and lighter, it also means that you can build lenses tailor made for the purpose, lenses which should perform better at wide angles.
(Diagram shown to scale but much larger than in real life)
What's probably more startling is the relatively minute size of the 2/3" type sensor used in the two previous digital ZLR cameras, the E-10 and E-20. The other implication of a larger sensor is larger photodiode sizes (larger pixel pitch - a measurement of the distance from the top corner of one pixel to the next). Larger photodiode size makes for lower noise and higher sensitivity, and looking at the table below we can see that the E-1's sensor has a photodiode with four times the area of the E-20 and just smaller than the sensor used on the EOS-10D.
|Camera||Sensor||Total pixels||Pixel pitch||Sensor size|
|Olympus C-4040 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||4.1 million||3.1 x 3.1 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||5.2 million||2.8 x 2.8 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus E-20||2/3" CCD||5.2 million||3.4 x 3.4 µm||8.8 x 6.6 mm|
|Olympus E-1||4/3" CCD||5.6 million||6.8 x 6.8 µm||18.0 x 13.5 mm|
|Canon EOS-10D||CMOS||6.5 million||7.4 x 7.4 µm||22.7 x 15.1 mm|
|Canon EOS-1Ds||CMOS||11.4 million||8.8 x 8.8 µm||36 x 24 mm|
|Kodak DCS-14n||CMOS||13.8 million||7.9 x 7.9 µm||36 x 24 mm|
Interesting note for the future: if Kodak could produce a 4/3 type sensor with a 2.8 µm pixel pitch it would have 31 million pixels, so there is plenty of scope for expansion at this sensor size.
Lenses and the lens mount
The other thing that the four thirds standard defines is the lens mount, communication protocol and other details relating to lens, zoom and focus. This is perhaps even more important, it means that in theory a Kodak four thirds camera could use Olympus lenses and that we may see third party manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron producing their own four thirds lenses. Acceptance and wide ranger use of this open lens mount standard is vital to the survival of the four thirds system.
|A house for sneakers by fotoselect|
from Feet, shoes, anything to do with HUMAN feet
|A Sunday Stroll by TexasGal|
from call any vegetable
|Green roots by cand1d|
from Lichen and moss
|Start of study by Shirsendu Bandyopadhyay|
from Seven Story plots - Rebirth
Sigma has announced that five of its Sony E-Mount Art-series primes, announced earlier this year, are now shipping.
Adobe has announced a raft of updates across its suite of Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
The FUJINON GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a 36mm equivalent fast prime for Fujifilm's GFX 50S. We've been shooting with one for a few days, and we're impressed. Check out our sample gallery to judge for yourself.
Video editing software package Video Pro X has received what is described as its biggest update yet to mark ten years since Magix Video Pro was launched.
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.
Leica Camera has announced a new compact camera that features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens and a 20MP 1” MOS sensor. Essentially a re-badged Panasonic Lumix ZS/TZ200, the Leica C-Lux will save Raw and JPEG files, will offer 4K video and has a viewfinder with a 2.33 million-dot resolution.
Leica has launched a limited edition M10 with a contoured handgrip designed by luxury car manufacturer Zagato. And, to celebrate the opening of a new part of the company's Wetzlar factory, a pair of Leica-made watches are due this autumn.
The new Mijia gimbal provides 3-axis stabilization and can charge the battery of the attached device.
YouTuber George Tomlin explains the concept of sub-framing and details how you can use it to take not only make the composition more interesting, but also provide context for the scene you're shooting.
British photographer Drew Gardner tells us how his gigapixel image of the queen's birthday parade came together.
YouTube channel Company Man has shared a 12-minute video explaining the history of Kodak and the factors that led to it going from industry leader to bankrupt business.
Neewer, a photo gear brand out of China, has launched a new budget APS-C lens for Fuji X and Sony E mounts. The Fuji X mount lens offering has appeared on Amazon as a new release with a $119.99 price tag, but is currently listed as unavailable.
Two years after launching its first photo filter, Aurora Aperture is back at it again with the Kickstarter launch of its PowerXND Mark II filters.
Nikon has announced the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F5.6E PF ED VR lens. Thanks to its use of 'phase fresnel' optics, Nikon claims that the lens will be small and light enough to be used handheld.
MIOPS has opened up a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Capture360. This pocket-sized device is a versatile motion control box designed to be as simple or robust as your needs desire.
Lowepro has released the FreeLine BP 350 AW, an all-new daypack that features Lowepro's adaptive interior divider system it calls QuickShelf.
Currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, the Instant Magny 35 supports Fujifilm Instax Square film and doesn't require any camera modifications. The instant film back is described as ideal for rangefinders and SLRs from Pentax, Leica, Olympus, Canon, and Nikon.
Utah-based tripod manufacturer Really Right Stuff has updated all 17 of its tripods with updated features and better ergonomics.
The new Technical Camera app offers comprehensive manual controls and a range of features for users who prefer to take control of the capture process.
Someone finally made a 1"-sensor compact with a fixed prime lens that can take great photos, but it's aimed at Scuba enthusiasts more so than land-based photographers and has a few operational quirks.
Leica has released details of the twelve finalists for this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award, one of who will take the €35,000 (approx. $41K) top prize. Organizers say that 2500 photographers submitted work to the competition this year.